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0222-JournalistsReport

MDRS 164 Journalist Report 22/02/2016


Sol 1. Serious business began today. Day started with a collective work out, and the schedule was one last time reviewed and validated by all crew members during breakfast. We all started working on our own experiment : assembly and integration of the Cliff Reconnaissance Vehicle was done in the afternoon, for a first test to be undertaken during tomorrow’s EVA. Similarly, the electrocardiogram, the embedded EVA interface, and the EMUI glasses are now ready for first operational tests. For the first (but certainly not the last) time, I had to contact Earth to have clarification about the ECG software analysis, as the user manual was not available offline and as I forgot to download it. « Les grandes déroutes sont logistiques » (« main defeats have logistical roots ») : it is only when you realize how true this motto is that you know the mission really started, and that you are now left alone on Mars.


But, first of all, the first EVA of the mission took place this morning. We made the preparation as solemn as possible, and I don’t think an Orlan space suit would have been worn with more application and pride by a cosmonaut on LEO than our own suits.


For two hours, the Hab became strangely silent, and we were only surrounded by the soft roar of the water pump, the continuous whistling of the ventilation, the shy beep emanating from our electronics and, from time to time, the electronic voice of the EVA leader coming attenuated somewhere from a walkie talkie and followed by a communication beep signal. For now on, I think this will be the sound of the mission. A strange mix of a technological soundtrack and of the sound of living astronauts. The encounter between science and life.


By the end of the day, an other sound appeared : the wind loudly whistling and slamming around the Hab, making us think on how weak the station actually was in front of the fury of the elements. Being protected from this Martian storm, and yet feeling the wind creaking on the roof of the Hab, made me feel like being isolated in a bivouac tent in a middle of a desert storm. This is how Joseph Kessel described Antoine de Saint Exupéry working on his first novels in « Mermoz » : as an engineer, the man would, isolated in his tent in the Sahara, write down in the evening all what he thought about in his plane during the day. He especially told us about the encounter between a professional pilot and a dreamer little boy. And I do not think that being an astronaut is any different than using science to fulfill the dreams of little boys, with their gaze lost among the stars.